Local stars continue hoop dream on semi-professional team

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 29, 2017

The Miss-Lou Warriors may only be in their second year, but its members are much more experienced than its existence suggests.

The Warriors compete in the North American Basketball League, a semi-professional league with 20 teams around the country, and have local players from an assortment of different trainings.

“The biggest development from last year has been getting more skilled Division I basketball players,” Warriors coach and founder Calvin Thomas said. “We have a variety of guys who have played on a high level which gives us more experience.”

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With its development, the 14-member team has already surpassed its win record from last season. The Warriors are currently 4-2, hoping to win the Western Conference and advance to the playoffs and NABL championship series.

Thomas said the greatest thing about fielding a team has been the chance it gives players to continue their hopes of playing professionally.

“This basketball league gives them those opportunities where scouts come out and see the guys play,” he said. “It all about giving back to the community, because I feel like Ferriday, Vidalia and Natchez need it.”

Ronald Ellis, a shooting guard for the Warriors, said it doesn’t just help the players, but young children, too.

“It’s a good thing for the community to come out and do and for the young kids to see other avenues to play professional,” said Ellis, who also serves as the boys and girls basketball coach of Delta Charter School.

Ellis said he is the oldest on the team at 35, always reminding him that he has the chance to keep playing.

“For me it’s about the privileged to continue playing with the young guys,” he said. “I’m not out here just to be out here, I love basketball.”

Thomas also said though the team can reward locals with a possible break in a higher level of play, it takes a lot of organization.

The Warriors compete against teams mainly from Texas, but also from Tennessee. When they are home, they play at the Ferriday Junior High Gym.

“To start any organization, someone has to foot the bills until you can get sponsorships and things like that,” Thomas said. “It’s a whole process to be approved to be a part of the league. You have to prove you can be financially stable, host a game and have a day-to-day operation staff. There’s all kind of travel expenses.”

Despite the challenges, Thomas said it’s worth the time.

“It’s been a great experience, and the guys enjoy it,” he said.

The Warriors next travel Saturday to Austin, Texas to take on the Knights.